2014 NBA Playoffs: Pacers, Thunder and Warriors fend off elimination to force Game 7s
We are only in the first round match-ups of the most competitive Playoffs in recent history of the league and what a treat it has been for the viewers around the world. While there are some inside reports via ESPN.com about Jamal Crawford possibly being awarded the Sixth Man of the Year award, there was no official confirmation as the league postponed the announcement of the remaining awards on the grounds of the Donald Sterling controversy.
Thursday night’s results mean we have three first round Game 7s so it would be wise to clear your schedules for Saturday. Here’s a recap of all the three games:
(1) Indiana Pacers vs (8) Atlanta Hawks (Indiana won 95-88, series tied 3-3)
The Pacers haven’t really dominated any game in this series. Don’t let the score line fool you, this game was a lot closer than it the score indicates. A lot of firsts in this game – Indiana had a lead going into the locker room at half-time for the first time in this series, the Pacers won their first game in this series when opposition point guard Jeff Teague scored more than 20 or more points and it was the first double-double of the this year’s playoffs for David West (24 points and 11 rebounds).
Despite the Pacers taking big man Roy Hibbert out early in order to play a small line-up to combat the spacing and speed of the Hawks, Atlanta still remained competitive behind Paul Millsap’s huge double-double of 16 points and 18 rebounds. It was only in the final minutes of play that the Pacers made a few important shots while the Hawks missed a few costly ones.
Paul George has been a monster this series with a run of five consecutive double-doubles prior to this game, but foul trouble kept him out of action for a few minutes in the second half and prevented him from grabbing those two rebounds that would have given him a sixth double-double in six games. However, with 24 points, he jointly led the Pacers in scoring.
Highlights of how George and West led the Pacers to victory in Game 6:
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (7) Memphis Grizzlies (OKC won 104-84, series tied 3-3)
Unlike the Pacers, the Thunder had a spirited showing on the road and with a rout of the Memphis Grizzlies forced Game 7 back home. They were led by MVP candidate Kevin Durant who responded extremely well to being called Mr. Unreliable by a local newspaper, scoring 10 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter along with 10 rebounds.
In a series that saw four consecutive overtime games played, this one came nowhere close, as the Thunder kept the Grizzlies at a distance of 10 points or more throughout the game. Russell Westbrook assisted Durant in the Game 6 domination, scoring 25 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists.
Meanwhile for the Grizzlies, everything was going wrong as they shot only 67.9% from the charity stripe, 37.3% from the field and hardly received any offense from point guard Mike Conley. Zach Randolph, who had a hot hand in the first quarter shooting 6 of 9 from the field scoring 14 points, put up only 5 attempts in the second quarter. The Grizzlies cannot afford to make such mistakes especially in a series where they are struggling for offense.
A look at how Durant led the Thunder’s spirited performance:
(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs (6) Golden State Warriors (Warriors won 100-99, series tied 3-3)
The Warriors needed Stephen Curry to be more aggressive offensively for them to stay alive in the series and Curry answered the team’s call scoring 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors opened the game with a 16-7 run. In the second half, Curry turned facilitator, as he recorded 6 of his 9 assists post half-time.
Draymond Green was huge once again as Head Coach Mark Jackson continued giving him starting line-up duties against Blake Griffin, recording a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds. Marreese Speights stepped up to the occasion after back-up center Jermaine O’Neal seemed to have hyper-extended his right knee, scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 boards in only 11 minutes of unexpected playing time.
A Clippers roster that is experienced with a deep bench lost the game on some bad decision in the closing seconds of the game. With 20 seconds left and down four, Darren Collison failed to spot a wide open Jamal Crawford behind the 3-point line. However, after few offensive rebounds, they got a 3-pointer to go down with 1.1 seconds to go courtesy of Matt Barnes, who had a Playoff career-high tying 11 rebounds. Curry who fouled with 0.4 seconds left on the game clock, deliberately missed the second free throw so as to run some time off the clock.
It would be safe to say that the Warriors stole this game given the chances the Clippers had down the stretch. The Clippers were once again led by big man DeAndre Jordan’s superman effort off the glass with 19 rebounds. Jamal Crawford led the Clippers in points with 19 followed by Matt Barnes and Blake Griffin who had 18 and 17 respectively.
While O’Neal’s condition would be crucial to the Warriors’ chances, a wounded Chris Paul is a bigger worry for the Clippers. He is battling a right hamstring injury along with a bruised right thumb and his presence on the court in Game 7 running the offense would be a huge boost for the Clippers.
Stephen Curry and his offensive delights in Game 6:
Top 5 plays from a night that had elimination games, but neither series was wrapped up: